Soda stealers are the lowest forms of life!

November 22nd, 2011 · 66 comments

The subtle version (from Denver, Colorado):

If you change your mind from water to soft drink, we will gladly assist you at the register.

And the not-so-subtle version (spotted by Ariana in Boulder, Colorado):

FREE REFILLS if you purchase a soda at the cash register, otherwise... ATTENTION: Soda stealers are the lowest form of life! If we catch you, we will break you down mentally and ridicule you in front of your friends. FAIR WARNING: Stop Stealing Soda. -Sorry - Deb

related: Is it really worth $1.59 to spend eternity in one of the lower kingdoms?

extra credit: Coke, Sprite, or Ice-T

FILED UNDER: beverages · Boulder · Colorado · Denver · restaurant · stealing

66 responses so far ↓

  • #1   Elmo

    I’ve always thought that restaurants put those things out in front of the counter because it’s cheaper than paying an extra person to run the drink dispenser. The profit on soft drinks is huge which is why so many of them have taken to charging for water — giving water away cuts into the profits from soft drinks.

    Nov 22, 2011 at 12:29 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #1.1   Janellionaire

      Where are you eating that they have a person there solely to run the drink dispenser?

      Nov 22, 2011 at 5:16 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #1.2   infant tyrone bang

      Methinks there must be a food court inside his DeLorean, M’Lady.

      Nov 22, 2011 at 7:00 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #1.3   makfan bang

      They don’t pay an extra person to run the soda dispenser, but they do feel that it is one less thing for the cashier to do, allowing for a bit faster service. Of course, if people freeload too much, it eats up all the savings.

      Nov 22, 2011 at 7:14 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #2   DonnyD

    Whoa… wait, what? A place named Cheba Hut is surprised that their stoner customers would steal soda? Ridiculing someone in front of their friends would really harsh their buzz.

    Nov 22, 2011 at 12:30 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #3   HolierThanThou

    Does the Sheba Hut server cannabis colas or something? What’s up with those logos?

    Nov 22, 2011 at 12:31 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #3.1   Samuel L. Bronkowitz

      The picture was taken in Boulder, CO; a disgusting pseudo-hippy college town full of trustafarians, “body-workers” and new age idiots.

      It has a reputation for being full of stoners, so the pot leaf logo is of no surprise to me.

      Nov 22, 2011 at 2:08 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #3.2   Samuel L. Bronkowitz

      Addendum: On the company’s website (apparently it’s a sandwich chain) their motto is:


      (Note how the use of apostrophes around the word “toasted.” Very clever).

      Nov 22, 2011 at 3:52 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #3.3   Parker

      RE 3.1: That is by far the funniest and most accurate description of Boulder I have ever seen!

      Nov 22, 2011 at 4:09 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #3.4   Amy

      From a normal, not-hippy, hard-working (because how else will the rent be paid), paid-for-college-through-grants-and-loans-(and one very generous scholarship), doesn’t-smoke-and-hates-the-smell person who lives in Boulder, that’s not cool. Not everyone is like that, not in the least.

      Nov 22, 2011 at 5:33 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #3.5   annie

      They serve really good sandwiches which are named after strains of pot. It’s Boulder, ’nuff said.

      Nov 22, 2011 at 5:43 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #3.6   Clumber

      My dear adored perfect Daddy lives in Boulder. SLB has described it perfectly. My dad is, for the most part, not represented in that description, however he loves living there and spends a reasonable amount of his retired time people-watching through a Nikon Lens.

      Nov 30, 2011 at 9:35 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #3.7   that-girl

      Cheba Hut serves delicious sandwiches in Tempe, AZ also. The music sucks in there but the food is delish.

      Dec 2, 2011 at 8:49 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #4   redheadwglasses

    #1: No need for an extra person to dispense soda. I did my purgatory time in fast food–the cashiers get the soda and it’s a pretty fast task.

    However, I do agree completely that soda has a huge profit margin. I remember being told that a $1.50 pop cost the store under a nickel.

    Nov 22, 2011 at 12:38 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.1   jadefirefly

      Ayup. The cup costs more than the soda it holds.

      Nov 22, 2011 at 3:35 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.2   Canthz_B bang

      The soda is the cash king. That’s why they’re willing to give you buy-one-get-one-free on burgers and such…they need you to buy the sodas.

      When was the last time you saw an offer for a free soda with the purchase of a burger?

      Nov 22, 2011 at 3:35 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.3   Amy

      Oooh, Quiznos emails out coupons for a free soda and chips with a purchase of a sub. It’s awesome.

      Nov 22, 2011 at 5:34 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.4   Canthz_B bang

      Word? I’ve gotta hit their website! Thanks!! :-)

      Nov 22, 2011 at 6:19 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.5   kermit

      CB, if you knew how moldy those spouts are, you wouldn’t be so keen on the free soda that comes out of them.

      Nov 22, 2011 at 6:34 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.6   Canthz_B bang

      LOL, point and advice taken!!

      Nov 22, 2011 at 6:36 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #5   kermit

    It’s even less than a nickel. A box of Coke syrup (that’s what it comes as from the manufacturer) that I think is about 25 liters* costs about $25. It gets mixed in with tap water and in a busy store lasts at least a three days.

    *For the metric system haters, 1 liter = 32 oz.

    Nov 22, 2011 at 12:48 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #5.1   Jimmy James

      Oddly enough, USA seems cool with metrics for soda, just not for anything else.

      Nov 22, 2011 at 12:53 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #5.2   Canthz_B bang

      1 liter = 33.792 oz.

      Nov 22, 2011 at 3:20 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #5.3   infant tyrone bang

      Many years ago I was conversant with 1.5 liter wine
      and 1.75 liter rum measurements.
      I was a thrifty, value-conscious shopper.

      This was decades ago, before Kathy Griffin’s sainted Mom
      pushed the envelope and made it OK to have wine inside
      a paper box and not just inside a paper bag. Viva Maggie G !

      Nov 22, 2011 at 3:42 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #5.4   Clumber

      TIPIT, Kathleeeeeen. TIPIT!

      Nov 30, 2011 at 9:36 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #6   Jimmy James

    Most of the lowest forms of life (amoebas, paramecia, et cetera) lack the finances to pay for soda themselves, what do you expect them to do? I think they should consider something akin to Subway’s “Ducks Eat For Free” policy rather than subjecting these single-celled oragnisms to ridicule they can’t even comprehend.

    Nov 22, 2011 at 1:00 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #6.1   infant tyrone bang

      Oh, restaurants are fine with the unicellulars if they stay in their places…
      inside = garbage cans, outside they are given full run of the dumpsters.
      Try to get out of the ghetto or off the rez, it’s genormicide time.
      On a counter or in a sink, say goodbye…it’s time to die.
      Amoebic apartheid ? Meet amoebic dysentery !
      The little guy’s way of sticking it to
      The Multicellular ANtagonists
      Make a run for it
      Or they will
      make one
      for you

      Nov 22, 2011 at 1:25 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #7   Chesire Cat

    When I just ask for water I sometimes get that look where they think I am lying and going to try to steal soda. Pisses me off. My 4 year olds don’t need sugar or caffeine thanks. I like soda and sometimes even I don’t want it and would prefer water. We definitely don’t steal it.

    I don’t mind the sign because it is targeting specifically soda stealers and not people who are honestly just wanting to get water in their cup.

    Nov 22, 2011 at 1:21 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.1   tcnb

      They need to manage the drinks better. Or not offer it at all, pretty much. Passive-aggressive stickies would only make me want to jack soda out of spite.

      Nov 23, 2011 at 8:40 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #8   Taylor

    Sometimes they get too picky about soda stealers. I was at a restaurant that gave free water and charged for soda. I got a water but i needed to take some medication and got a SMALL shot of sprite first and an employee spotted me and RUDELY explained the difference between the water and soda. The manager upgraded me for free after seeing the MASSIVE horsepill sized medication i had to take. Water would have gotten it down but the carbonation and flavor of soda helped better.

    Nov 22, 2011 at 1:31 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #8.1   Canthz_B bang

      Interesting. You needed soda but ordered water and just stole a little soda and feel justified.

      If a woman needs money and goes to a bank to open an account, can she then take just a little money from their vault if she’s a little bit pregnant?

      Nov 22, 2011 at 3:29 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #8.2   jadefirefly

      I love you, CB. I really do.

      Nov 22, 2011 at 3:36 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #8.3   Pxmidnight

      While I can see that pills go down better with carbonation, I don’t get why you think the restaurant should pay for it. The employee shouldn’t have been RUDE, but it seems to me that taking a shot of soda without paying for it is still theft. You should have paid for your soda, taken your pill with water, OR taken your meds in the privacy of your home. (Why is it appropriate to show a restaurant manager your medication?)

      Nov 22, 2011 at 3:43 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #8.4   Janellionaire

      So next time, just show them your pill, and explain that you “need” the soda, you don’t “want” it, ergo they have to reason to charge you. Clearly they should be charging your Medicaid. Medical necessity, yo.

      Nov 22, 2011 at 5:21 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #8.5   Canthz_B bang

      Hell, get the meal for free too if your meds need to be taken after eating.

      Nov 22, 2011 at 5:26 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #8.6   pony girl

      weird, I’ve always found that carbonation makes it more difficult to swallow big pills.

      Nov 22, 2011 at 7:00 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #8.7   infant tyrone bang

      If you ask at a pharmacy, I think they’ll give you a razor-based pill cutter. Might have their logo on it…if not, maybe they make you pay a little something, but I’m sure it beats gagging on those so called horse pills.

      The vinyl you want is in transit.
      Check 1st comment @ clip below for comm suggestions.

      Was wondering where you disappeared to but didn’t have a clue where to look, so I stole an old masterpiece and Hill Countried it up thinking to use it as incantatory technology…and then here you are…coincidence I guess.

      They seek her here
      They seek her there
      PANistas seek her everywhere
      Is she a-stable
      Is she a-whirl
      That damned elusive pony girl

      Nov 22, 2011 at 8:23 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #8.8   GhostWriter bang

      Go Team Taylor!

      It’s up to the restaurant to work that .00003¢ mouthful of soda into their overhead costs. I never buy a soda when all I need is a sip. Sometimes I just grab a swig off of the next guy’s drink while he’s getting napkins.

      Here’s a tip for those chintzy places that charge you a quarter for the empty cup. First, I make sure everything’s clear; “So the water is free, but the CUP is a quarter??” When they agree, I pull out my Boy Scout canteen. Then I go fill it up with Mountain Dew.

      Seriously, everybody’s saying “Soda costs nothing” but then “Don’t you dare steal a miniscule amount.” Yeah- while you’re at it, why don’t you try to make me give back the twenty napkins and dozen Catsup packets I already have in my pockets?

      Gawd- I’d hate to hear what the collective agitators have to say about my handful of eat-n-runs I’ve pulled at the local Steak-n-Shake (same goofy waiter every time!)

      Nov 23, 2011 at 12:01 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #9   infant tyrone bang

    When I’m in Boulder, or near one of the other 13 Cheba Hut locations, Imma ask for a water glass, steal some soda, wait for the mental beatdown and ridicule show, and if it’s entertaining, I’ll give them the deuce that I placed alongside my sandwich when I sat down.
    No Show…No Dough.
    Here we are now
    Entertain us

    Trust me ;-)

    Nov 22, 2011 at 1:44 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #9.1   Janellionaire

      By “deuce” I’m hoping you mean “two dollar bill” and not “number two.” Although it would be funny to literally give them crap.

      Nov 22, 2011 at 5:22 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #9.2   infant tyrone bang

      Yes, a $2 U.S. money coupon…option one, not number two.
      I am old enough to have encountered a few in regular circulation.

      I’m occasionally up for an amateur performance art scene, but putting doody near my dining is going over and above the call of…you know.

      I’m afraid I’m game for giving them crap only metaphorically these days…the era of leaving a flaming paper bag of dog poop on the doorstep of the neighborhood grouch and then haul-assing away has passed. :-(

      But I’ll drive getaway if you can do the deposit, or deposit the doo. :-)

      Nov 22, 2011 at 6:50 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #9.3   Janellionaire

      I’m afraid the deposit would have to be prepackaged, I’m too old myself to think I could pinch one off before the homeowners came outside to find me and my sudoku squatting on the porch.

      But what if we got pulled over on the way there? Try explaining to a cop exactly why we are joyriding with bags of poo and a bottle of lighter fluid.

      Nov 23, 2011 at 12:09 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #9.4   infant tyrone bang

      Oh, yikes…prepackaged if at all then, young Gray Pantherette.
      We never even contemplated giving that much of ourselves to the cause.
      I suppose these days a teenage terrorist might be justifiably circumspect in light of what TV shows tell us are profound advances in the art and science of chemical forensics…we were just young enthusiastic adherents to the new (to us anyway) principle of “good enough for government work”,
      so willing to commandeer a fresh portion of easily accessible suburban dog droppings and shovel it into a specially saved brown paper lunch bag that we never stopped to imagine taking the step of injecting ourselves into the prank in a more deeply personal way, a way that Rabelais might have termed ‘fundamental’. But we had some fun…sudoku, huh ? Mental.

      I guess what with the Patriot Act replacing the Bill of Rights these days, driving around with actual lighter fluid in the trunk would be something like playing that variation of Russian Roulette where each successful ‘click’ mandates the deployment of one additional cartridge…probably some witty math major at CalTech has devised a perfect phrase to describe such a predicament and process, but you and I we’ve been through that* and we can just say it wouldn’t end well. On the other hand, though, I think I have a work-around for the Bags o’ Poo ™. We git us a savvy but somewhat innocent twelve year old and pay them $10 to handle the bags and place them in the trunk (being sure that they leave a few full prints). Sort of a reverse of what some of us used to do with paying older kids to buy beer for us back in the Iron Age. Sure, they’ll figure out their leverage position and be blackmailing us within 48 hours, but we’ll have had our one night of fundamental abandon watching old Mr. Grouchypants do the Bristol Stomp on his front porch steps. And Big Brother can come and take the T-Bird** away if necessary. :-)


      Nov 23, 2011 at 4:05 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #9.5   infant tyrone bang


      Didn’t forget it, but have had trouble with posts with 2 or more links getting impounded by the “editor” here.

      Nov 23, 2011 at 4:07 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #10   The Elf

    Debs 4 life!

    Nov 22, 2011 at 1:47 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.1   infant tyrone bang

      If only your “Debs” had been related to a PAN from
      the Oregon Cheba Hut location…the one in Eugene.

      But I’m sure it’s a non-union store, so maybe the irony would have
      created one of those rifts in the space-time continuum.
      Maybe better this way.

      Nov 23, 2011 at 4:23 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #11   Zorin

    I’ve always wondered what would happen if I got one of the little water cups and put soda in it.

    I should do it sometime when I’m at a restaurant far from home that I wouldn’t mind getting banned at. It’d be a great opportunity to troll if they go overboard reacting to it. :)

    Nov 22, 2011 at 3:31 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #12   Quite Contrary

    I’m presuming the lowest form of life sign was written before Sandusky’s indictment went public.

    Nov 22, 2011 at 4:34 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #12.1   Janellionaire

      Oooh, BURN, Sandusky! You got TOLD!

      Nov 22, 2011 at 5:24 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #12.2   Canthz_B bang

      I don’t want Sandusky to burn. I want him convicted and incarcerated so his turn to pick up the soap in the shower soon comes.
      I want Bubba-the-Biker, Large Leroy, and “El Diablo” Jose to pass his ass around until he’s reduced to a quivering mass of flesh.

      Nov 22, 2011 at 6:08 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #13   Nunavut Guy

    Joseph Goebbels did triple refills on his cream soda at Das Burgers and you know where that went.

    Nov 22, 2011 at 7:40 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #13.1   Canthz_B bang


      Nov 22, 2011 at 9:22 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #13.2   infant tyrone bang

      Goebbels always thought he was der schnitzel…

      The barkeep looked the other way when Joe helped himself to cream soda (Joe liked to call it Virgin Bailey’s), but he couldn’t play blind when large volumes of TBA started evaporating every time he’d head off for the head.

      In the resulting fuehrer, Joe was unceremoniously given Das Boot.

      Nov 23, 2011 at 12:02 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #13.3   The Elf

      After he got caught, they called it kristallnacht. Dude had a temper.

      Nov 23, 2011 at 11:35 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #13.4   infant tyrone bang

      So, if PK Dick were still with us and writing a sequel to The Man in the High Castle would he create an Aryan version of Microsoft but keep the flagship product’s name as “Fenster” as a kristallnacht-based jape at how broken the real-life software is ? 2…3…4…virtual rimshot

      Nov 23, 2011 at 5:13 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #14   Palomon

    What is the font on the Denver note? Stoner Sans?

    Nov 22, 2011 at 10:32 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #14.1   infant tyrone bang

      Looks like they pruned the serifs and smoked ‘em up and now they’re left with nothing but the unadorned & down-to-earth smooth structural elements, or what the Commander used to call

      Nov 22, 2011 at 11:27 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #14.2   mojodave

      I’m going from memory here, but I’m pretty sure that font is ‘Inkpen2 Script’ and is part of the Sibelius music software package. In case you actually wanted to know.

      Nov 28, 2011 at 10:38 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #15   TracyLee

    No surprise this was found in Boulder.

    Nov 23, 2011 at 12:19 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #16   FeRD bang

    Alchemy is HARD, and if I was thinking of trying to transmute something from water to soft drink, I’m pretty sure I would not start with my own mind! I don’t care how much assistance their (hopefully licensed) Alchemist Cashiers are willing to provide.

    Nov 23, 2011 at 3:20 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #16.1   Canthz_B bang

      A mind is a terrible thing to taste.

      UNCF – (United National Cola Foundation)

      Nov 23, 2011 at 9:26 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #17   Canthz_B bang

    You know, if you attract a Pepsi crowd, you’re going to have thievery.

    Coca-Cola people are much more trustworthy.

    Nov 23, 2011 at 9:24 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #18   infant tyrone bang

    Even though the store manager and district supervisor had proved beyond the shadow of a doubt, and with geometric logic, that Dr. Pepper drinkers used way more toilet paper than the average customer and stole large quantities of napkins, straws, plastic spoons, and both the pink and blue varieties of calorie-free sweeteners, Cheba Hut was compelled by the local constabulary to keep serving this resource-intensive and light-fingered slice of Boulder’s demimonde.

    Testimony obtained in sworn depositions of Cheba Hut employees indicate that the pressure to serve was couched in terms of a beverage-driven proto-version (this was back in 1987, believe it or not) of the politically correct “you can’t single people out” trope.

    Internal BPD memos of the era obtained under the CFOIA reveal a more insidious basis for this early reach of Boulder’s Big Brother into the day to day operations of a nominally private commercial enterprise. Turns out the BPD chief had transferred from the NYPD a few years previously, where his first beat had been in lower Manhattan and had included
    Max’s Kansas City. His time in the neighborhood had had the effect of turning the then rookie cop into a bit of a conceptual artist, so when he got wind of the straws and sweetener info, he decreed that the Dr.P-loving market would be catered to by any means necessary, hence the evolution of the BPD’s PC BS against “beverage profiling”. The Chief had something in mind and was channeling all of his extra-legal authority toward the goal of making his dream a reality.

    The night before he was to retire, the Chief’s vision (or whatever a vision should be called if it involves 95% audio) finally came to pass when he was, as had become his wont, haunting the Cheba Hut parking lot.
    He saw the Dr.P-wielding trio come out the front door, so obviously wasted that he got a little contact buzz from just watching.
    This was what he had imagined, so ideally a Three Stooges of stonerdom that they might as well have been named Baked, Toasted, and Fried.
    Huddled over the hood of their dilapidated 1972 Pinto, one unpocketed the filched goods with the sort of surreptitious flourish that only the herbally blissed seem to be capable of executing, tore open a blue packet and proceeded, albeit quite slowly, the bud in Boulder being quite beatific back in the late 80′s, to crush the white contents on the orange hood and fashion the resulting extra-fine dust into a sort of 3-spoked powdery peace sign, after which Baked and Toasted pulled out straws and the trio got down to hoovering up every last morsel of that aspartame goodness.
    Watching from the shadows, but still able to see the whole tableau thanks to the glass layout in his recently introduced 1985 Jeep Cherokee,
    the Chief kept his glass rolled up all around, knowing that any sound he heard from the Stooges would only spoil the moment, the interior, mental audio track of which was a tune he had heard for the first time on his first night on the first street of his first beat.

    The tableau and the tune synchronized sweetly to show once again that sometimes life does imitate art, and as the Chief’s mind bounced rapidly (like a metaphorical golf ball in a tile shower) between the short-lived glam-rock scene of 1970′s NYC and what then, back in 1987, was “now”, what he heard on both time-walls was what he realized he simply had to use as background music for his answering machine, starting tomorrow when he was retired and would not have to explain it to thee, occasional citizen, politician, or journalist.

    Nov 23, 2011 at 2:05 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #19   noname

    So those sodas are ridiculously overpriced AND very bad for you. Why do people still buy them?

    Nov 24, 2011 at 11:53 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #20   bookworm

    I remember working fast food and attempting to block the local high-schoolers from stealing water during their lunch time by preparing ice waters and handing them out as they were ordered.

    The looks on the t0-be thieves faces were priceless. The hissy fits that they threw after realizing they couldn’t steal soda were pretty funny too.

    Nov 25, 2011 at 1:35 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #21   mariam67

    I like how it worked so well, Deb actually felt the need to apologize.

    Nov 25, 2011 at 9:03 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up


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